LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Austin Beutner, the publisher and CEO of the Los Angeles Times, has been fired, the newspaper reported Tuesday.
Tribune Publishing Co. executives were to meet with Beutner, a civic leader and former Wall Street investment banker, Tuesday morning, according to an article on the Los Angeles Times website.
Tim Ryan, publisher of the Tribune-owned Baltimore Sun, has been tapped to replace him, the Times reported.
In a statement, Tribune officials gave no indication of the reasons behind Beutner’s ouster.
“The California News Group is a critical component of our company’s portfolio and business strategy, and the Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune are world-class institutions with deep connections to the communities they serve,” Tribune Publishing CEO Jack Griffin said.
According to the newspaper, Los Angeles philanthropist Eli Broad had approached Tribune with an offer to purchase the Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune and operate the two papers as a separate company. The proposal was rejected.
Beutner had engineered Tribune’s purchase of the San Diego newspaper in May, as part of a strategy to consolidate Southern California newspapers under common ownership to reduce production and distribution costs and generate revenue for digital intiatives. The two papers comprised the newly formed California News Group under Beutner.
Beutner, who said his company email had already been suspended, released a lengthy statement on Facebook.
“When I agreed to take this job, many people told me it was an impossible task. Why take on the challenge? For me, the choice was easy. I could not imagine Los Angeles without a vibrant LA Times. I still can’t,” Beutner wrote in the post.
Beutner, 55, was named Times publisher in August 2014. During Beutner’s 13 months as publisher, The Times won two Pulitzer Prizes — for cultural criticism and for feature writing — along with other national journalism awards for coverage of the California drought, the plight of Mexican farm workers and other stories. The California Newspaper Publishers Association awarded The Times its 2015 general excellence award.
In 2010, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa appointed Beutner deputy mayor of economic development, or “jobs czar,” overseeing 13 city departments and the Port of Los Angeles. He helped to streamline the business-permitting process and led the effort to pass a tax break to lure companies to Los Angeles. Beutner accepted a $1-a-year salary and held the job for 15 months.
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